To the Heron who stood with me in the ruins of another black man’s life

by Roy McFarlane

after Gwendolyn Brooks

To the Heron long and lean standing still on the corners
where the waters bend; to the Heron gracefully grey
poised at the water’s edge; to the Heron painted
in the tapestry of reeds, waiting, waiting – I want
to learn the art of waiting in these dread full times
thick engulfing, choking times; to the Heron
long-limbed, taking one, two steps, stretching
those wings leaping like Jordon – to rise
in brilliance;
to all Herons from the lineage
of Bennu He who came into being by himself.

To all the Herons left school, real cool;
to the Heron lurking late in summertime;
to the Heron with the slow wing beats
of a double-bass on a Jazz June evening;
to the Heron motionless, still standing still;
to Gil Scott-Heron whilst I’m here standing
in the ruins of another black man’s life… I am Death
cried the Vulture for the people of the light,
yet, here
we stand on the muddy banks alive longing for change;
to all those gliding towards the sunset, beautiful is your name.